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pepper jelly failures

Posted by unclet (My Page) on
Mon, May 26, 08 at 11:07

i have now tallied 3 pepper jelly failures. I can't get it to set. I have some awesome tasting pepper jam but I really want something that does not roll off a cracker. I thought I followed he recipes and instructions to a tee, but am a miserable failure. Need assistance in how to get the stuff to set into jelly.

thanks


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: pepper jelly failures

You need to learn what the "gell stage" looks like in the boiling liquid.
take a metal spoon and put some of the liquid on it and let it run back into the pan....it should sheet off the spoon...form 2 little drops that unite to form a sheet.
Or if you think the jelly is almost done, turn it off and put a teaspoon ful on a pottery plate or glass dish and refrigerate for a couple of minutes until cool. Then check for thick ness...if it's too thin, brihg the stuff back to a boil and give it another 3 minutes of boiling, check again. Eventually you will get the gell point!
The danger also exists that you will make "jelly rubber"...but that's just the other side of the coin!

My unscientific, partially, reasons for why sometimes pepper jelly doesn't set is sometimes the peppers are "juicier" that other times and you get more liquid in the mix and it takes longer boiling to get it to the gell stage.
Linda C


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RE: pepper jelly failures

Can you tell us what recipe you used? The source? Maybe there's a problem with the proportions or the instructions.

Also, how long did you wait for the jelly to set? Pepper jelly, like marmalade, is notorious for setting slowly. Usually it will set right away, but it can take as long as six weeks on the shelf before it sets. Even commercial pectin has its quirks.

Carol


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RE: pepper jelly failures

I've always used dry pectin - "Sure Jel" and found it sets up better than Certo, which is liquid.


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RE: pepper jelly failures

I always use Certo...never had a problem.
Thing is both are pectin.The recipe I first used called for something lkike 1 1/4 cups chopped peppers....but I wanted more stuff in the jelly, so I added 2 1/2 cups of peppers and followed the directions....and someone older and more experienced pointed out to me that all those peppers are like adding another 1/2 cup of water to the mix and I would have to cook it longer to cook off all that water.
So instead of "following the recipe" I started testing to see when it was at the gel stage and have not had a failure ( but for the time when the phone rang and I made rubber jelly).
Cooking jelly by the clock is rather like following a recipe for bread when it says "allow to rise 1 hour, pounch down, shape into loaves, allow to rise 40 minutes and bake"....doesn't always work that way.
Fruits, vegetables jumitidy, atmosphere are all variable...it's done when it's done, not necessarily when it has cooked for 5 minutes.
Linda C


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RE: pepper jelly failures

There's a risk in increasing the peppers unless you reduce or eliminate an equal amount of other low-acid ingredient like onions.

Carol


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RE: pepper jelly failures

I agree, I'd want to see the recipe. I make habanero gold with Certo, but as a rule I don't like the liquid pectin, I have more trouble with that then I do with dry pectin.

I've stopped using pectin nearly altogether because it takes such an inordinate amount of sugar. I make longer cooked jams and jellies with sugar reduced by at least half because I like it to taste like FRUIT, not like a big ole' jar of sugar flavored gelatin. Plus, pectin is getting so darned expensive!

As Carol noted, adding a low acid vegetable without decreasing another, or without increasing acidity (vinegar is used in most pepper jelly) can be dangerous if it affects the Ph of the final product.

Annie


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RE: pepper jelly failures

unclet - I do not have the solution to your problem; however, if it makes you feel any better, you are not alone. I am, by no means, an expert on jellies or canning, but my attempt at pepper jelly did not set-up either. My husband's aunt is, however, an expert. When I questioned her about my failure, she said that she had also had batches of pepper jelly not set-up according to her recipe either. Something about peppers that are not always consistent, I guess. Good luck with your future attempts. I'm sure that this forum will yield the right answers for you!


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RE: pepper jelly failures??

So.....by adding an extra 3/4 or so cup of peppers am I creating a danger? All the liquid is vinegar...but for the moisture in the peppers.
I thought that with jellys I was safe?...that is if there was enough acid for it to jel, there was no problem with botulism..
Linda c


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RE: pepper jelly failures

the recipe i used came off of the Clemson Uiversity website. Basically was : 4 hot peppers 4 bell peppers 1c. apple cider vinegar, 5 cups sugar, 1 pouch liquid certo. Liqufy peppers and vinegar in blender ;combine w/sugar in pan, boil slowly for 10 minutes. add pectin. boil hard for 1 minute. pour into sterilized hot jars,seal. process in boiling hot water bath for 15 mins(due to 5000' elevation. i let the jars set untouched for 3 days and had soup. i will try the sheeting test although other recipes i have examined all call for only cooking for 3 or 4 minutes before adding pectin. any other thoughts based on this recipe?


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RE: pepper jelly failures

I found the recipe. OK, this is just a guess, but ideally with a jelly you keep the processing time as brief as possible because excess heat/time in the boiling water bath can break the jell. And it may or may not re-set over time. Jelly is just plain delicate.

For the same reason I don't upsize jellies to pints because I want to avoid the additional processing time.

Looking at the recipe at 5 min. processing time + 1 minute per 1000 feet, you should have been able to BWB 10 minutes. I think it's the extra 5 minutes that did the damage.

I'd leave it in the jars a while and see what happens. A month or so down the road, if it hasn't thickened, you can re-process if you want. You could bring back to the boil, add an additional Tablespoon or so of pectin and see if that does the trick. Just be careful not to overcook. You don't want your jelly to taste caramelized.

Another option is to obtain some Pomona Pectin and use that to re-process. The color won't be as bright or clear but Pomona would jell water. It should definitely fix theproblem.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.

Linda, I don't have a definitive answer on the food safety issue except to say that the vinegar isn't primarily for the set; it's to acidify the low-acid peppers. Sugar is a dessicant, so it's going to bind up a lot of the water and provide an additional margin of safety, but the ratio will be thrown off if more peppers are added. Whether the vinegar is reduced or the peppers are increased, the problem is the same.

Here's a recipe for a pepper jelly from University of Wisconsin Extension. The head-note is pretty specific, which is why I try to stay within the confines of the original recipe when I make these kinds of condiments:

Golden Pepper Jelly

Food Safety Note: The addition of vinegar to the low acid sweet and hot peppers makes this recipe safe for
boiling water canning. Do not reduce the amount of vinegar. The exact amounts of vinegar and sugar are also
necessary to provide the conditions required to form a gel with the added pectin.

Caution: Wear plastic gloves
when handling hot peppers/hot pepper puree or wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching
your face.

3 large fleshy yellow bell peppers
1 to 4 serrano chile peppers
1 cup white distilled 5% vinegar
7 cups sugar
1 pouch (3 oz.) liquid pectin

Yield: About 7 half-pints jars

Procedure:
1. Wash, rinse, and pre-sterilize 7 to 8 half-pint canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids
according to manufacturer's directions.

2. Wash all peppers thoroughly; remove stems and seeds from the peppers. Do not remove the membrane
from the hot peppers, since the remaining capsicum is located there.

3. Place sweet and hot peppers in a blender or food processor. Add enough vinegar to puree the peppers, then
puree.

4. Combine the pepper-vinegar puree and remaining vinegar in a stainless steel or glass saucepan. Heat to a
boil; then boil 20 minutes to extract flavors and color.

5. Remove from heat and strain through a jelly bag into a bowl. (The jelly bag is preferred; several layers of
cheesecloth may also be used.)

6. Add the strained pepper-vinegar juice back to the saucepan. Stir in sugar until dissolved and return to a boil.

7. Add pectin and boil hard for 1 minute while constantly stirring.

8. Remove from heat and ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with a
dampened clean paper towel. Apply two-piece metal canning lids.

9. Process in a boiling water canner, 5 minutes. Let cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

10. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dark place. Once opened, the jelly must be kept
refrigerated and will keep for up to several weeks.

Note: The use of yellow peppers gives this jelly a light golden color. Other color sweet peppers can substitute,
but these will provide a different jelly color. Other hot peppers can substitute. Each hot pepper variety has a
different heat index. It is best to start with a mild hot pepper flavor and increase it to personal tastes.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: UWEX Homemade Jams and Jellies


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RE: pepper jelly failures

Linda, Pepper Jelly relies on the vinegar to make it the proper PH so botulism will not form. Acid is not actually necessary for it to jel Most jams and jellies are safe from botulism because they are made with fruit which is a high acid product. However even when making a regular jam or jelly you would not want to add an ingredient that was a base, such as peppers, as they would change the PH.

As for the recipe for pepper jelly and why it did not set, there can be a large difference between the size of peppers so sometimes that recipe may take more time to set. I would try to use medium size bell peppers, not large ones.

-Robin


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RE: Pepper Jelly Issues

I found the recipe. OK, this is just a guess, but ideally with a jelly you keep the processing time as brief as possible because excess heat/time in the boiling water bath can break the jell. And it may or may not re-set over time. Jelly is just plain delicate.

For the same reason I don't upsize jellies to pints because I want to avoid the additional processing time.

Looking at the recipe at 5 min. processing time + 1 minute per 1000 feet, you should have been able to BWB 10 minutes. I think it's the extra 5 minutes that did the damage.

I'd leave it in the jars a while and see what happens. A month or so down the road, if it hasn't thickened, you can re-process if you want. You could bring back to the boil, add an additional Tablespoon or so of pectin and see if that does the trick. Just be careful not to overcook. You don't want your jelly to taste caramelized.

Another option is to obtain some Pomona Pectin and use that to re-process. The color won't be as bright or clear but Pomona would jell water. It should definitely fix theproblem.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.

Linda, I don't have a definitive answer on the food safety issue except to say that the vinegar isn't primarily for the set; it's to acidify the low-acid peppers. Sugar is a dessicant, so it's going to bind up a lot of the water and provide an additional margin of safety, but the ratio will be thrown off if more peppers are added. Whether the vinegar is reduced or the peppers are increased, the problem is the same.

Here's a recipe for a pepper jelly from University of Wisconsin Extension. The head-note is pretty specific, which is why I try to stay within the confines of the original recipe when I make these kinds of condiments:

Golden Pepper Jelly

Food Safety Note: The addition of vinegar to the low acid sweet and hot peppers makes this recipe safe for
boiling water canning. Do not reduce the amount of vinegar. The exact amounts of vinegar and sugar are also
necessary to provide the conditions required to form a gel with the added pectin.

Caution: Wear plastic gloves
when handling hot peppers/hot pepper puree or wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before touching
your face.

3 large fleshy yellow bell peppers
1 to 4 serrano chile peppers
1 cup white distilled 5% vinegar
7 cups sugar
1 pouch (3 oz.) liquid pectin

Yield: About 7 half-pints jars

Procedure:
1. Wash, rinse, and pre-sterilize 7 to 8 half-pint canning jars; keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids
according to manufacturer's directions.

2. Wash all peppers thoroughly; remove stems and seeds from the peppers. Do not remove the membrane
from the hot peppers, since the remaining capsicum is located there.

3. Place sweet and hot peppers in a blender or food processor. Add enough vinegar to puree the peppers, then
puree.

4. Combine the pepper-vinegar puree and remaining vinegar in a stainless steel or glass saucepan. Heat to a
boil; then boil 20 minutes to extract flavors and color.

5. Remove from heat and strain through a jelly bag into a bowl. (The jelly bag is preferred; several layers of
cheesecloth may also be used.)

6. Add the strained pepper-vinegar juice back to the saucepan. Stir in sugar until dissolved and return to a boil.

7. Add pectin and boil hard for 1 minute while constantly stirring.

8. Remove from heat and ladle into hot half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims with a
dampened clean paper towel. Apply two-piece metal canning lids.

9. Process in a boiling water canner, 5 minutes. Let cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours and check for seals.

10. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dark place. Once opened, the jelly must be kept
refrigerated and will keep for up to several weeks.

Note: The use of yellow peppers gives this jelly a light golden color. Other color sweet peppers can substitute,
but these will provide a different jelly color. Other hot peppers can substitute. Each hot pepper variety has a
different heat index. It is best to start with a mild hot pepper flavor and increase it to personal tastes.

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: UWEX Homemade Jams and Jellies


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RE: This Forum is Driving me Nuts!

Sorry about the repeat. This danged blankety thing told me it'd rejected my message when it hadn't.

Carol


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RE: pepper jelly failures

Three days time to set up was probably not enough. Some jellies can take much, much longer to set up. If the jar is sealed, give the jelly about a month, as Carol said.


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RE: pepper jelly failures

I use this one from Allrecipes and it has been failproof for me. It's pretty similar to yours.
* 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
* 1/2 cup chopped jalapeno pepper
* 5 cups white sugar
* 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
* 1 (6 fluid ounce) container liquid pectin

DIRECTIONS

1. Remove stems, veins and most of the seeds of the bell and jalapeno peppers. Mince peppers in a food processor.
2. In a 5-quart pot over high heat, combine bell peppers, jalapenos, sugar and vinegar. Bring to a rolling boil; boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.
3. Stirring constantly, add the pectin and let mixture continue to cool for 2 minutes more. Now stir for 1 minute.
4. Pour into hot, sterilized jars and top with sterilized lids. Secure lids with bands and allow jars to cool slowly, creating a vacuum seal.


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RE: pepper jelly failures

For years I have been making the pepper jelly with 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups of chopped peppers....and as to measuring the amount....if I chop 3 cups of peppers finer, they then will measure 2 1/2 cups...unless you are doing it by weight, chopped veggie measurements are just an aproximation.

Old time recipes for jelly, using the pectin which is naturally in the fruit call for boiling the fruit and sugar for a long time....the heat doesn't "break the jell".

Unclet....cook your next batch of jelly longer after you add the pectin to evaporate more water....the cooking it gets in the water bath doesn't count, because you are not evaporating of the water from it when it's sealed.


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RE: pepper jelly failures

Anyone who wishes can disagree with me, but you'll find the facts support what I say. I stand by what I said.

Boiling fruit and sugar for a long time just overcooks it. Yes, you drive off the water and the mixture will inevitably thicken, but it won't necessarily be anything you'd want to eat. The ideal for a preserve is to boil rapidly to hit the gel point, not make the mistake of a long slow cooking. Unless you like your jam caramelized or prefer taffy.

Overcooking jam or jelly can also break down pectin. The thermal effect of the boiling water bath can do the same thing with a jelly, which is even more vulnerable than a jam because there's no fruit pulp, which contributes its own pectin from the cell walls.

Note this quote from Colorado State Extension:

"Care must be taken to not over process as extra heat after the gel stage is reached can weaken the gel and cause it to be too soft."

Carol


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RE: pepper jelly failures

As we all realize, it is the unknown amount of water in the peppers which prevents jelling. I have solved the problem by buzzing the peppers in the food processor with no liquid and then straining the pepper pulp, pressing on it to expell liquid before following the recipe.


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RE: pepper jelly failures

Oh yeah, I've always hand chopped mine.


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RE: pepper jelly failures

carol-

i used 15 min BRB because Certo instructions suggested adding 10 minutes to 5 minute bath for altitudes 3000 -5000
Back to the drawing board with new suggestions gleaned from above posts.


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RE: pepper jelly failures

I'll start by telling you that I have never made jelly before but I'm going to give jalapeno jelly a try tomorrow, thanks to my 1 extremely abundant pepper plant. Here's my question - In what aisle of the grocery store does one typically find either liquid pectin or Certo? Would it be with Jello products? Thanks in advance.


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RE: pepper jelly failures

kec01 - My Safeway doesn't seem to carry it, but Kroger/King Sooper does. Try looking with the baking products, usually on the top shelf. Safeway has powdered pectin by the dry milk powder (again on the top shelf).

I just made the Big Batch of Habanero Gold jelly over the weekend and it set up right away. It's so addictive I was scraping out the pot with a spoon and putting it on crackers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Habanero Gold recipe thread


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RE: pepper jelly failures

unclet, sorry I missed your comment in late May. I should have clarified that I was speaking of traditional jelly without commercial pectin when I said over-cooking can break the delicate gel. Of course, high altitude cooking goes by different rules.

With Certo or other commercial pectins, it is still theoretically possible to break the gel by over-cooking, but realistically speaking it's far less likely to happen.

Carol


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RE: pepper jelly failures

Thanks, dafygardennut. I have to ask because the folks that work in my nearby Jewel store aren't always too aware of where products are located:) At least I'll get into the ballpark.

Thanks for the habanero recipe.


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RE: pepper jelly failures

You're welcome but you should thank Carol since it's her adaptation of the original recipe. :-)


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